Washington court justices make public commitment to anti-racism

Washington court justices make public commitment to anti-racism

Washington has known for decades that the state justice system was disproportionately punishing black and minority residents.

In 2011, when two state Supreme Court Justices dismissed the impact of race in the justice system at a court meeting, they prompted the formation of a task force of lawyers, legal professionals and researchers which created a comprehensive report on the history and state of the system, clearly documenting disparate treatment and outcomes throughout the system:

After the recent high-profile killings of Black people by police prompted nationwide protests, the Washington Supreme Court released an open letter to the legal community calling for them all to work together to eradicate racism (news article). 

Following their lead, in July the Washington Superior Court Judges Association sent to members a letter announcing their commitment to promote racial justice in the court system, and several specific actions they intended to begin with:

Meanwhile, a group of Washington attorneys created Free The People, a project bringing in community members to watch court proceedings in order to identify and prevent instances of racism, classism and colonialism that maintain the disproportionate use of incarceration against Black people, Indigenous people and people of color (BIPOC), as well as low-income, queer or disabled people – especially in pre-trial incarceration of people merely accused of a crime


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